The department’s MEC Sihle Zikalala was optimistic that the province would finally achieve what has, so far, been an elusive objective of a UK - Durban direct flight. Picture: British Airways.
DURBAN - KwaZulu-Natal could soon have direct flights between Durban and London.

The department’s MEC Sihle Zikalala was optimistic that the province would finally achieve what has, so far, been an elusive objective of a UK - Durban direct flight. 

“We had a very productive meeting with British Airways. They see huge potential in the Durban-London route and we are extremely optimistic that our engagements will bear fruits. For a number of years now, KwaZulu-Natal has been working on securing air services between Durban and the UK and we are happy that British Airways has finally given us the opportunity to engage them on the viability and potential of the route,” said Zikalala.

The MEC met with the British Airways (BA) with the airline’s high powered delegation led by director of network planning and alliances Sean Doyle, to motivate for direct air services between Durban and London on Tuesday (yesterday).

Speaking during the meeting British Airways said it was busy evaluating its routes throughout the world, adding that the Durban route was one of the routes they viewed as having huge potential. 

Following this engagement, British Airways would engage in its own internal evaluation and due diligence processes, including the briefing of the British Airways Board of the potential of the UK-Durban route. 

BA previously ran the route between the two cities before shutting it down more than 15 years ago.

Zikalala saidt the province delegation went to the UK  last year and engaged a number of sectors, which included the airline with the view of re-activating the route between Durban and London. 

“This has potential to grow tourism. In trade, for business and freight we believe we have a lot to benefit and that this engagement is going to contribute positively on the economic growth of the province. From an economic standpoint, this route also augurs well for improved trade relations as the United Kingdom is currently South Africa’s second largest export trade partner in Europe,” he said.

South African exports to the UK make up 4.5percent of the country’s total exports.

Approximately 10000 passengers currently fly indirectly between Durban and London via Johannesburg or other hubs such as Dubai.

Zikalala said the proposed new route would drastically reduce their travel times and costs.

Highlighting the province’s selling points, Zikalala added that international cargo through Dube Cargo Terminal had experienced continuous year-on-year growth of 138percent since 2010. 

“The introduction of new passenger flights to Durban saw a growth of 25percent in cargo volumes, as well as an increased frequency of chartered aircraft. In the 2017/2018 financial year we expect a 12percent growth in cargo,”

A decision from the airliner is expected in the near future.

- BUSINESS REPORT